Wood frogs 'cackle' in time for Easter

In 2005, wood frogs started calling here April 6, so when I was out of town this past week, my husband was on frog patrol. He'd go out into the meadow after sunset to listen for early season breeders, but night after night, he didn't hear anything.

In 2005, wood frogs started calling here April 6, so when I was out of town this past week, my husband was on frog patrol. He'd go out into the meadow after sunset to listen for early season breeders, but night after night, he didn't hear anything.

As it turns out, I made it back to Minnesota at a near-perfect time. On our way home from the airport Tuesday, April 11, Jeff and I heard large groups of Western chorus frogs in road ditches near Fargo. And Tuesday night when we got home, we heard several wood frogs cackling in the meadow.

"They're saying, 'Okay, we can start now. Maureen's back,'" my husband joked.

John and Marlene Weber also heard their first wood frogs at Spider Lake April 11. Dick from Lake Emma Township beat us all, however. He said he heard a single Western chorus frog way back on Thursday, April 6.

By Wednesday night, April 12, not only were more wood frogs calling here in the meadow, but spring peepers had also joined them. I heard one or two Western chorus frogs as well, but they were far out-numbered by the wood frogs and peepers.


Wood frogs are especially suited to breed in early spring's unpredictable weather. Several wood frogs lay their eggs together so the eggs form a large mass. While water temperatures may sink low enough to kill the eggs on the outside of the mass, those eggs toward the inside of the glob will stay warm enough to survive.

To review: wood frogs sound like cackling, quacking ducks; chorus frogs sound like someone running a finger over the teeth of a comb; and peepers sound more like bird chirps or tiny bells.

Loons return

Renee Brauer reported the first loons of the season. The birds were heard on 6th Crow Wing Lake on the northwest side April 6. Mel from Blue Lake heard loons Tuesday April 11 and said they were "quite vocal" Thursday, April 13.

Many ducks have been plying the waters of the Fish Hook River. Marlene Weber saw common goldeneyes, buffleheads, hooded mergansers and ring-necked ducks Wednesday, April 5. April 7, Dick from Lake Emma Township saw common mergansers, lesser scaups, wood ducks, green-winged teal, mallards and pied-billed grebes on the river.

Dick also saw mourning doves and a turkey vulture Friday, April 7. Stan from Becida saw a vulture April 12.

Saturday, April 8, Edric Clarke of Park Rapids saw an emu, of all things, along CSAH 18.

Flickers returned to Lake Emma Township April 8.


Fox sparrows showed up at John and Marlene Webers April 8 and made it to Becida by April 12. As Stan said, the fox sparrow "jumps when it scratches."

Roberta Knutson of East River Drive in Park Rapids saw a great egret on the Fish Hook River the morning of Sunday, April 9. "Have never seen one this far north before," Roberta wrote. These gorgeous white birds stand more than three feet tall and have wingspans of 51 inches, making them a little smaller than great blue herons.

Real estate wars

Dick from Lake Emma Township said a bluebird couple was house hunting at his place Sunday, April 9.

Tree swallows returned to the meadow Wednesday, March 12. They weren't there when I went outside at 8 a.m., but by about 10 a.m. couples had started to claim nest boxes. At one point in the morning I saw two tree swallows and one bluebird sitting on three of my six nest boxes.

March 12 was a banner bird day for me. Without trying very hard, I saw and/or heard red-winged blackbirds, tundra swans, a sandhill crane, gulls, a hawk, bluebirds, tree swallows, house finches, white- and red-breasted nuthatches, a pileated woodpecker, a small flock of juncos, crows, a pheasant, wood ducks, chickadees and mourning doves. And that night, in addition to frogs, I heard bats, though I'm not sure what species of bat.

More on bats next week.

Moths, butterflies


John and Marlene Weber saw their first day-flying Infant moth April 3, as well as an overwintered gray comma butterfly. The Webers saw a mourning cloak butterfly April 4, and Edric Clarke saw one April 5. A Compton's tortoiseshell butterfly appeared April 7, and a Milbert's tortoiseshell showed up at the Webers and at Marilyn Peterson's on Portage Lake April 7. The Webers spotted an eastern comma butterfly April 9.

Thank you to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to no later than 8 a.m. Thursdays. If it's easier, feel free to drop a letter by the office, or in the mail.

This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware. Bird feeders: large ones, small ones, hanging ones, bright ones, etc. We have all sorts of bird feeders in stock!

Open seven days a week, Ace is located on Highway 71 south, Park Rapids, 732-4513. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.

What To Read Next
Get Local